Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mountains & Sea of Anawangin

One time I saw a photo of a white beach with a shoreline filled with pine trees. I was stunned,  I am used to seeing tropical beaches with coconut palms. It was very unusual, so I told myself I had to see it one day. When Ma'am Cinch told me that Siena & her friends are going to Anawangin, I didn’t pass the chance.
It was a Thursday night when we all met up at Victory Liner bus station with big bags, and camping gears. We boarded a bus going to Iba, Zambales. We reached San Antonio town at 4am. The tricycles drove fast through the narrow streets to Pundaquit. We rested for a few minutes, left our baggage in the hut which is facing the sea. I saw one of the most beautiful serene night skies there. The moon has a pink and yellow aura, the silhouettes of the mountains as background with the sound of soft waves of the sea; truly nice.

 On the second leg of the trek, everyone was anticipating for sunrise. We were near the peak when the sun slowly peaked behind the mountain. On our hike up, the mountain is bare almost without trees. It is full of rocks and short grass. We had to stop several times to rest. When the morning sun came up, the magnificent views greeted us. I felt so free and light at that moment. This may even start my "calling" for hiking.  But it was not all fun, everyone was getting tired and some had difficulties. Ma'am Cinch injured both her feet. Well, it's a part of hiking, to conjure our own strengths. We guided her during our descent to the cove. The sun's heat was getting unfriendly, so we had to rush to the camp site.

When we reached the foot of the mountain, we crossed several rivers. There is also a hill which looked like a pyramid from afar.  On the path, there are rocks stacked on top of each other as markers, but there were so many rocks so sometimes it's difficult to spot them. Our guide brought us to the "Bermuda".  To our awe, the forest opened to a wide clearing of Carabao Grass, with pine trees in the far horizon. It reminded me of Lord of the Rings for some reason. It also reminded me of where they played baseball in the "Twilight" movie, the only difference is their's place is gloomy. On our way to the beach, we passed by rows of Eucalyptus trees and one Golden Shower tree, with beautiful yellow blossoms.

When we reached the camp site, it wasn't the way I imagined it to be. It was crowded. When we reached the beach, I noticed it was not white at all.  It was almost pure silica with bits of black sand. They say it's "lahar" from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. But the sand really glistens under the sun, it's like bits of diamonds, maybe that's why it looked white in the photos. I read somewhere that they call it Crystal Beach. The sand is too hot to walk barefoot on.
For lunch, we feasted on delicious Fish Sinigang and fried chicken, afterwards we pitched our tents. It was my first time to do it. That noon, everyone found their spot on the beach for siesta. I ended up sleeping under the shade of the pine tree. It was truly hot that afternoon, so we waited for a long time before we had a swim.  While waiting for the heat to subside, we were at our “dining table” a branch of a pine tree fell, on top of a guy resting on the sand.  Everyday you learn new things… pine tree branches are brittle. Poor guy, he was shaken up, good thing that he was positioned exactly between the branches of the part that fell.   
The water isn't that salty. After swimming, we went to the end of the beach, where the pine trees are greener and a river runs parallel to the sea. It's not a tropical scene, more western. That afternoon, it was windy and it made an eerie whistling sound. That night it was humid.

It's my first time for a real camp out. That night the guys grilled tuna and pork for dinner. Afterwards, they created a small bonfire and had something to drink. I strolled at the shore alone, staring at the sea and sky for awhile.  I had my God time, to speak and thank Him. The experience was so comforting. The sea breeze made me feel sleepy. I went to sleep inside our cozy tent. I woke up at some point, looking up at the sky, through the branches of pine tree. I always wondered what it felt like to sleep under the stars.
I woke up early at 4:30am. I was waiting for the sunrise. The beach is facing west so the closest thing I can get was the sun rays striking the hills. When I was walking at the beach, I even met a lady from Quezon City.  She said she and her family always go there. 

 I saw several problems arising in Anawangin.  One of which is, some travelers are not mindful of their own garbage. Careless people threw small plastic bags anywhere. I've noticed that the caretakers collect trash but it's a scary thought that they dump it somewhere or burn them. Imagine that tragedy. One more thing, the boats are all scattered on the shore. It's not good for the beach, the swimmers and the water. I asked the boatman to consider docking their boats in one area far away. They don't want the place to be like Alona Beach in Panglao, where the water smells like gasoline. Tourists and locals alike must be responsible of their actions. Yes, the place is truly beautiful but we must take care of it so others can also appreciate it in its natural state.

We prepared the breakfast. It was eons when I cooked rice but good enough it turned out OK. Ivy fried  spam & dried fish. 
We boarded a boat to take us to Capones Island. We opted for the shorter hike to the Light house, but then again we didn’t go to the light house. The beach is made up of white bleached corals and black solid rocks. We hiked up a few steps to the foot of the hill with the view of the light house. We have an almost 360 deg view of the sea, amidst that grassy cliff. The shore seemed like a sanctuary for slippers, I don't have an idea why there are so many slippers there.

On our way home, we passed through Pundaquit, then boarded a bus to  Olongapo Subic, where we took a bus to Manila. It was a very short weekend trip but it felt like we have done so much. A good thing Zambales is only a few hours from Manila. And I'm glad I was able to spent it with Ma'am Cinch, Siena and her friends namely, Bob, Mark, Ivy, Sonny, Josef, Wilay, and Mardy. They are a really cool bunch, I had fun with them. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bagasbas Beach

That afternoon we went to Bagasbas Beach, the first surfing spot in the Philippines. It has black fine sand. At first it was scary, the water will really pull you. The whole family together with  some friends where there spending time at the beach, even Bolt, their white playful dog was there running freely. We did swim embracing the waves, the water is shallow. There were some surfers and there were some guys on skimboards. We even met with surfer dude, the nickname we gave our chef. We even snacked on fish balls and kikiam.

This travel is really exciting and fun. It's truly an authentic Bicol Experience with the help of the typhoon. Sometimes we need to accept what's there and be open to new experiences. All in all this trip is awesome. We did't need the sun to bring on the sunshine, it's just a state of mind. Melvic and the guys are really accommodating; they didn't give up on us even if the weather is tough.Thanks again for Plan B. They have spoiled us. Everything was just laid out for us. I'm not used to that. They made us felt comfortable and safe during the whole trip for which we are grateful. To Ma'am Cinch, my Ate,  thanks for giving us the chance to indulge our interests on your birthplace. It was really one of a kind. To Kuya Boboc, Ate Onia and the whole family, even Bolt and Muning (it’s a dog by the way), thanks for opening your doors to us. To Ate Avic and Kuya Peter, one of the sweetest couples I’ve ever met, I'm looking forward to traveling with you both again. And to my parents, friends and even my boss, who checked on us, thanks for the concern. You know me; I'm hearing the word "addict" more often than I have too. Thanks for understanding, that this is what makes me happy. A piece of advice, don't compromise on things that can make you happy, even if the skies brings you a typhoon. :) And Calaguas, you're still on our list.

To tell you how strong the typhoon was, when we got back to the Resort from island hopping, Albay were declared state of calamity because of Typhoon Dante.

By the way, you're free to reach Mr. Melvic Brinas just visit his site:

Cayucyucan Siete Picados

It's a beautiful rainy Saturday when we headed to Cayucyucan in  Basud. The pick-up truck was fully loaded. We ventured on with two of Melvic's pals (the chef and the lifeguard). The place is in a cove where the Seven Islands they call Siete Picados. (Don't let me name them all.) We stayed at a native cozy resort named Cayucyucan Palms & Farm Resort. 

When we reached the beach, we strolled and picked up shells. After a fabulous lunch of Liempo and Tilapia, we went with our island hopping. It was like island hopping and white water rafting in one. The waves were crashing, and it was totally exciting. We first visited the Cajibe Island. There is a small fishing village. There are several interesting sea grass and not your usual type of sea shells on shore. One of which is the Saang, a shellfish we ate when we were in Surigao. The beige sand is fine.

Cajibe Island

The next island is Malasugui Island, named after a fish. It is a private island. On the other part of the shore, there are black round rocks which seemed like ripraps from afar. The sand is coarse, still beige. I love the sand bar, at the end of the beach. We even saw a group of small live shellfish, the story has something to do with dog poop, I'll spare you the details. 

Malasugui Island

The next hop was at the Apuao Grande. We were greeted by their guard dog which really seemed small from afar, and is big when its barking right beside you. It was a known resort back then but because of the NPAs, they had to close. Too bad... The place is really nice, if i had 50M, I'd buy it. hehe. The caretaker sold us some shells. I bought 2 bigs ones. They say you can hear the sound of the sea with it.( I've heard toilet flushing.) In the absence of a typhoon one can literally walk across to the Apuao Pequena. When we were walking towards it; Ma'am Cinch told me it was too pristine that she doesn't want to walk over it. One thing I noticed at the beaches of Camarines Norte, instead of Coconut trees, pine trees flourish. I was imagining the beach; it would be really beautiful, golden sand glistening over emerald waters. One sunny day, I'd see it.

Hermit Crab
 On our way back to the resort, the waves got bigger, and from afar at the back of the islands, there are really massive, white fluffy waves. I was seating infront of the boat, and one of the boatmen was at the tip of the boat, there was a big freak wave, I instinctively stood up because I didn't want my camera to get wet & I forgot to hold on, good thing both of us didn't go overboard. There were flying fish jumping along with us. 

Sand Doller

When we reached the resort, we had a “swim”, but it was low tide so Ma'am Cinch just sat while I lie on my stomach on that very shallow waters. Kuya Peter & Ate Avic drank coffee with rain water while picking up starfishes. That night our chef prepared another yummy dinner of Fried Chicken, and this time we got to taste the famous pineapple. It's bliss, it's sweet and crunchy. After dinner, while the angry typhoon brought us more rain and wind, we had some drink while the guys tell their stories. The leech stories are the best. I am already thinking twice of hiking rain forests. Imagine a leech stuck up in your eye lids. Yikes! We had a good sleep afterwards. That morning, we took photos of the place. 

The beautiful Palm Farm is really interesting. The leaves are so shiny and looked so sturdy. We went back to Daet, passed through the never ending roads. I now know where Amorsolo got his inspiration. The usual farm scene of rice paddies with coconut trees as background is common there. Art imitates nature.  On our way back to Kuya Boboc's (Ma’am Cinch’s brother) house, we bought some pasalubong, some Pili nuts and tarts, etc. for the sweet tooth and bags made from Abaca.